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Fraser: Ruling on kicking motions and high-sticking calls

Kerry Fraser, TSN.ca
3/20/2013 4:48:50 PM
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Got a question on rule clarification, comments on rule enforcements or some memorable NHL stories? Kerry Fraser wants to answer your emails at cmonref@tsn.ca!

Kerry,

Thank you and TSN for creating this outlet. We all love this game including the referees and off-ice officials. But where were they on the Island the other night? Coach Jack Capuano loves to say that over the course of the season bad calls for and against seem to even out, but we on the Island are still waiting. First let's talk about the Keith Aucoin non-goal which was called a goal on the ice.

After a long review the ruling from the war room was that Aucoin used a distinct kicking motion to propel the puck into the net. At no point does he use anything other than a stopping motion. Bad reversal, No? That leads to the game-winning goal for the Sens. Again: four officials on the ice missed a simple call. Mika Zibanejad batted the puck down with a high stick over his head, and Jakob Silfverberg touched it first.

No official saw it?

Well replay shows the back official put up the high stick signal and after the play kept going washed it out. He made a call but was in no position to make the call that Silfverberg touched it first. This was a breakdown of communication between the crew and it cost a team a point or possibly two.  Your thoughts?

Thank you,
Tom Heiser

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Mr. Fraser:

I admire what you do. I think you're one of the most fair and most consistent official in the sport. I'm 16 years old, and my family has had season tickets to the New York Islanders since a few years before the dynasty years. Tuesday night at the Coliseum, with a little over a minute left in regulation there was a clear high sticking incident when Jakob Silfverberg played the puck after batting it down. And then earlier, Keith Aucoin of the Islanders put the puck in the net off his skate, but after video review, it was waved off.

If you can somehow take us through this and your thoughts and what you would've called, would really be great. I do a radio show for my own high school (one of four on Long Island) and I just can't possibly find a way to let either of the final decisions stand.

Are referees seriously beginning to favour teams? This is nuts.

C'mon Ref. My 82-years-young slow-driving, poor reflexes, arthritis-complaining grandmother can do better than that.

Sincerely,
Cord Lehman

Tom and Cord:

Thank you both for your questions and perspective on the two plays you questioned from the game on Long Island last night. I'll cut through the vitriol and offer you may take on both of them.

"Distinct kicking motion" consistently appears in the wording of Rule 49 and creates a clear visual image in our minds as to the action that would negate the scoring of a goal. The wording that follows distinct kicking motion, "to propel the puck into the net" is often lost in our minds eye on this play. The men in the situation room take into account all aspects of the attacking player's actions, including if a skate in motion was turned unnaturally and distinctly utilized to propel the puck into the net. This determination includes whether a normal stopping motion was utilized by a player.

Through video review it was correctly determined that Keith Aucoin approached the rebounded puck at the crease and turned his right skate to make contact with the puck thereby propelling it into the net even though that right skate threw some snow in a forward stopping motion. This is supported by the fact that Aucoin's left skate continued in a path on a different angle toward the goal and not in a stopping motion. (Please don't suggest Aucoin was attempting a one-legged stop!)  The reverse angle more clearly demonstrates that Aucoin distinctly moved his right skate with deliberation to contact the puck more than just to make a natural stop. I fully concur with the decision in the War Room to disallow this goal based on the evidence. Go to NHL.com Situation Room blog to look for yourself.

I do not agree with the officials' decision to allow play to continue and their hesitation to determine possession and control following a high stick of the puck in the neutral zone by Mika Zibanejad. A clear play was made on the puck and touched first touched by Jakob Silfverberg just prior to Lubomir Visnovsky of the Islanders. Given the potential for bad things to result from allowing the play to continue once Zibanejad batted the puck into his attacking zone from the neutral zone, in addition to the score and time remaining in the game, I would have been quick to blow the whistle once Silfverberg made the first play on the puck. Let me attempt to explain why the Officials on the ice chose a different course of action.

Once a puck has been struck with a high stick it is the responsibility of each official (but primarily the referee) that observed it to make a signal with a high stick gesture that he witnessed the violation and a delay is in progress contingent upon puck possession.  If the non-offending team gains possession (in this case the Islanders) a clear washout signal must be employed by the official (again primarily the referee) to signify that the high stick violation is no longer in effect. The purpose of this procedure is not only to identify a delayed high stick in progress but also a washout signal by the closest referee to the play so that one official isn't waving the play good while another one is blowing his whistle.

The referee on the goal-line made a high stick signal once the puck entered the Islanders zone while the linesman closest to the play did not. The first player to contact the puck is Silfverberg as he stabs at it making contact. Visnovsky used an active stick and made secondary contact which caused the puck to pop up in the air as Silfverberg skated past. No whistle was blown at this point but more importantly no wave off signal at any point resulted from the lead referee or the linesman. (If another official made a washout signal he is not in the camera shot. If he did the other officials should have responded in kind as verification that play was allowed to continue.) Visnovsky then gained secondary possession of the puck and turned it over to Zibanejad on an attempted pass up the wall to Frans Neilsen. Tic-tac-toe, the puck ended up in the back of the Islanders net past Evgeni Nabokov and its game over.

Kerry Fraser

Kerry Fraser


Kerry Fraser is an analyst for the NHL on TSN and That's Hockey 2Nite on TSN2. As one of the league's most recognizable senior referees, he's worked 1,904 NHL regular season games and 261 playoff games during his 37-year career.


Got a question on rule clarification, comments on rule enforcements or some memorable NHL stories? Kerry wants to answer your emails at cmonref@tsn.ca!


You can also follow Kerry Fraser on Twitter at @kfraserthecall!

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